Grantland's love for the Pistons continues. NBA columnist Zach Lowe surveyed the landscape of organizations currently in search of a general manager and Detroit came in second behind only New Orleans as an attractive landing spot.
The Pistons were touted for the potential superstar big man in Andre Drummond, a factor that single-handedly landed New Orleans at No. 1 (it's nice to have Anthony Davis). There are a lot of great bits of information in Lowe's piece but here is his take on the Detroit opening (bolded emphasis mine):
The Pistons are kind of like the Bucks, in that they seem like they should have a vomit-inducing cap sheet, only they are super flexible both this season and going forward. "The cap situation is a lot better than people think," says Stan Van Gundy, who took over the dual role as head coach and president of basketball operations last week. "People see Josh [Smith]'s contract and immediately think, ‘Oh my god, they've got cap issues.' But we've got decent flexibility."
Interestingly, Van Gundy says long-term roster setup was a minor factor in his choice. "Things like the roster and the cap situation, those are almost meaningless to me," he says. "Those things change over time."
The exception: Van Gundy is eager to coach Andre Drummond, one of the best young players in the league at a scarce position. He's also already hard at work choosing coaches, scouts, and new front-office executives, and watching all 82 of Detroit's games from last season. (I'm pretty sure that was one of the circles of hell in Dante'sInferno.)
Van Gundy wants his key coaching hires to do the same, and in jotting down notes to himself over the weekend, he zeroed in on one phrase, he says: "Avoid groupthink." He wants to delay all roster-evaluation talk until all his key new hires have watched those 82 games, so that no one goes into the film room with preconceived notions about any player. "I don't even want to talk about things before that," Van Gundy says, "because if I mention, ‘Hey, this guy is really great at that,' some guys may start looking for examples of that guy being great."
Van Gundy hopes to hire a GM before the start of free agency on July 1, and he says he's limiting the pool to guys who have held a full-time GM job before. He and the team's owners have 50-50 say in the final hiring decision, he says: "I'm not just picking someone I want, and they are not forcing anyone on me."
With Van Gundy aboard, cap room, and Drummond, this is an attractive job. The team has to figure out Greg Monroe's free agency, and owes the Bobcats a first-round draft pick thanks to the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette swap - perhaps the most depressing trade in recent NBA history. You are a sad League Pass addict if you can remember either one of those guys doing a basketball thing in a basketball game for either team after this trade.
Van Gundy played down the idea that he's committed to playing a power forward with 3-point range, an ideology that would make both Monroe and Smith awkward long-term fits. "The no. 1 seeds in both conferences play two big guys," he says. If anything, Van Gundy says, the team needs more 3-point shooting to put around two interior behemoths.
Detroit keeps its pick if it falls within the top eight, and enters tonight's lottery in the no. 8 spot. If a team below Detroit moves up, Detroit will send the pick to Charlotte. The Pistons are sending Kyle Singler (and Kyle Singler's hair) to represent them at the lottery, and Van Gundy has jokingly threatened to revoke Singler's per diem budget next season if Detroit forfeits the pick.
Losing the pick would be a blow. The Pistons figure to be better next season, meaning they could send Charlotte a lower pick if the lottery gods smile upon them tonight. But again: It's hard to be both bad and capped out, and even Brandon Jennings's contract has just two years remaining.
It's nice to see further proof that Van Gundy sees a possibility of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as a long-term big-man tandem, though he could just be paying lip service, I suppose. It's also interesting that he is committed to hiring a GM who has played the role before as that seems to significantly limit the candidate pool. Perhaps there is more wiggle room to hire a top-level assistant GM than he is letting on but it doesn't seem like it.
Where do you think Detroit stacks up for potential GMs? Would you rather take the reins in New Orleans, Detroit or somewhere else?